"I still have Hope"
On 16 October, 2017 CPT had met with Honar Jasim Saleh: a writer, researcher, university teacher and civil society activist. He reported to CPT that since his involvement in the “No for Now” Campaign regarding the Kurdish Referendum vote, he and his family have received numerous death threats. In addition security, forces and other unnamed actors heavily monitor his family. Unknown persons have also told Mr Honar that he would either have to leave the country or he would be killed.
As a result of speaking against the government, in October 2016 Mr. Honar was fired from his job at the University. Although he is highly qualified, he still cannot find a regular job to provide for his family. “I have several certificates but cannot teach even in primary school. I believe it’s because I'm outspoken about the state of our government.” he said.
Mr Honar noticed an unknown vehicle following him to and from work after he was hired to teach a course in Soran, a town close to Khalifa where he lives. Honar had to quit his teaching job because he was afraid of being kidnapped. Before the referendum vote a BMW car carrying people wearing security uniforms stopped Mr. Honar on two different occasions. Because of Mr Honar’s role in the “No for Now” Campaign, his sister also was fired from her teaching job in Khalifan.
On September 25th, the day of the referendum, a group of people fired shots in the direction of his home. The group left quickly, it was a very traumatising incident for him and his family.
After the referendum Mr. Honar, his family and other members of “No for Now” Campaign hoped the threats would decrease, however Mr. Honar and his family are still receiving threats on a regular basis.
Honar reported that the local political parties believed that his town of Khalifan would receive a lot of votes in favor of the referendum. “A high number of people voted “No”. They blame me for this and told me that I should pay for it,” he told CPT. “Several people are still following me and my family, they want to beat us and even kill us. It’s very difficult for me to leave my home,” he added.
Mr. Honar’s believes that because his family is well known and connected in the area is the only reason he is still alive.
Mr. Honar told CPT that due to political pressures the situation in Khalifan is extremely difficult for civil society activists to speak out. ”The freedom of speech is very limited here, It’s not a place for activists. It was my moral duty to do what I did, but during this situation activists are the ones paying the most. I still have hope but hope is not enough to live.”
Mr. Honar states that his family’s safety is most important to him. He is asking for protection against the threats they are receiving.